TAFE: upskilling in the crisis

It sometimes seems if NSW TAFE was a course it would be Cert I in Basket Weaving – not now

The trainer has enrolled 80 000 people in its fee-free short courses for people wanting to up-skill during the COVID-19 crisis. So where does that leave universities planning to pick-up federal funding for similar products? Behind is where.

“I think TAFE NSW has stolen a march on the universities by offering these courses quickly and free. I think “free” is the critical issue,” a long-time training policy watcher says.

“The core question is, are people prepared to pay $1500 for a university credential compared to a free TAFE one? The subject/industry areas seem similar.

“The language the universities are using like ‘up-skilling’, ‘workforce re-entry’ seems very VET.

“Future questions will revolve around completion rates, articulation rates and value for employers.”

But is it all a passing fancy?

“If universities are planning to move longer-term into the VET short course market to replace international students they will find the competition tougher than they might have expected,” the policy watcher observes.